"It's not about last year or who's here or who's isn't here," says your head coach. "It's about getting out here and competing and seeing who is here, and that's where we're gonna go."
Prediction for Minnesota: The FEI Forecast for this Saturday is Michigan 24 – Minnesota 19 with just a 61% Probable Win Expectation for Michigan. If Denard is able to play most of the game, I don't think it will be that close. Michigan's offense has been excellent (3.8 PPPo) against poor teams (AFA, UMass, Purdue, Illinois) but has really struggled (0.90 PPPo) against every good team (Alabama, ND, MSU, Nebraska). In 2011 this was not the case as M scored about the same versus poor teams (3.7 PPPo) but was much better (2.2 PPPo) against good teams (ND, MSU, Nebraska, and Iowa). That said, Minnesota would be classified as a poor team (sorry Goldie).
Fremeau Efficiency Index: Not much movement in the overall FEI or DFEI but the OFEI went from #40 to #56 (no surprise there). In the detailed chart below, GE represents the raw data for FEI before adjustments for opponents. M is ranked #34 in GE and overall FEI is #36. This seems about right since M has lost 3 of the 4 games to their highly ranked opponents.
The S&P Ratings (Also from Football Outsiders) is a play based analysis (rather than possession based) and M is ranked #12 overall, #16 in offense, and #16 in defense.
The FEI is a drive based analysis considering each of the nearly 20,000 drives each year in FBS college football. The data is filtered to eliminate garbage time (at the half or end of game) and is adjusted for opponent. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams (win or lose) and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams.
National Rankings: The rankings for offense and defense are based on scoring (yardage statistics are inherently flawed). These are simply raw numbers without any adjustments for opponent, garbage time, or anything else. The data is from TeamRankings and includes only games between two FBS teams.
FEI Details: Here are the FEI numbers for Michigan and their opponent ( Football Outsiders FEI ).
Cumulative PPPo is 2.4 for the offense and 1.5 for the defense. M finished 2011 outscoring opponents by almost a 2:1 margin with PPPo for offense of 2.9 and defense of 1.5. The 2 charts show the raw data for offense and defense with the number of possessions adjusted for "kneel downs" at the half or end-of-game (maximum deduction = 2).
Using Scoring Offense and Scoring Defense National Rankings for the past 5 years (FBS AQ teams only), this table shows the percentage of teams that finish the season with a +WLM and a +5 WLM. For example, teams that finished in the Top 40 in both offense and defense had a 100% chance to be +WLM and an 82% chance to be +5 WLM (9-4 or better).
So I was playing my favorite older video game recently, Left 4 Dead 2, and as I was slaughtering the endless horde of zombies, it got me to thinking about how the zombies from the game can be compared to Michigan’s football schedule this year, with each type of zombie representing an opponent we faced or will face.
For those of you that haven’t played L4D2, it is a 4 player co-op zombie survival shooting game that takes place in a world overrun with an infection that turns everyone into zombies. Aside from your traditional run-of-the-mill zombies, the infection has turned some zombies into special infected zombies that have various powers and abilities. In L4D2 there are 8 types of mutant zombies and 5 varieties of uncommon zombies. The zombies in the game actually match up very well with Michigan’s schedule for 2012, as you’ll see below. (Author’s note – yes I know that in the game they’re called “infected” not zombies, but zombies sounds better and it’s Halloween so deal with it)
Alabama: The tank.
The tank is the toughest zombie in the game. It is enormous, strong, and extremely hard to take down. Think the Incredible Hulk if he were a zombie. That is Alabama in a nutshell, the NFL team playing in the NCAA. Bama is an unstoppable dominating force, and unfortunately unlike the tank, we can’t throw Molotov cocktails at it to slow it down.
Air Force: The jockey
The jockey is a zombie that is small and annoying. It gets it’s name because it hops on your back and steers you into trouble, such as right off of a ledge. Air Force is also small in size, compared to other football squads, and having to prepare for their triple option is annoying. Also, having this game right after Alabama was Dave Brandon’s way of potentially steering us into trouble.
UMASS: The common zombie
Common zombies are easy to kill, dispatched with one well placed bullet. Baby seal of 2012 UMASS was this, extremely easy to dispatch.
Notre Dame: The smoker
The smoker is a zombie that ensnares you from a distance and slowly chokes the life out of you. This is what ND’s defense does, choking the life out of its opponents. Also, watching Denard throw 4 straight interceptions slowly choked away my will to live as well.
Purdue: The clown uncommon zombie
The clown is an amusement park clown turned into a zombie. It is the stuff of nightmares, with a big red clown nose, but the same level of defense as your ordinary common zombie. This was Purdue this year, a team that had the appearance of maybe being scary, but in reality had no defense. Plus the clown nose reminds me of their coach’s mustache.
Illinois: The hazmat suit uncommon zombie.
Just like the clown zombie, the zombie in a hazmat suit is just a regular zombie with a goofy appearance, but once again no defense above a common zombie. There are three reasons I liken this zombie to Illinois’ football team this year. The first is because the hazmat suit makes the zombie fireproof, something Tim Beckman probably is since it is his first year. The second is that the zombie has no defense, just like UI football. And last, the hazmat suit is a good metaphor for UI football in general, because you need a hazmat suit to deal with the stench that is the Illini this season.
Michigan State: The charger
The charger is like Juggernaut from X-Men, it will batter into you over and over. MSU RB Le’Veon Bell is the charger in a nutshell, a human battering ram that MSU uses to run over their opponents. Fortunately, MSU didn’t use him to batter us down as much as they used him earlier in the season.
Nebraska: The boomer
The boomer is a zombie that pukes all over you, attracting other zombies to rush you in a horde. When Denard Robinson got hurt playing against them, I totally wanted to puke myself. Plus, Nebraska’s blitzes that swarmed our backup QB Bellomy are similar to the horde rush that happens in the game when the boomer hits you.
Minnesota: The construction worker uncommon zombie.
The construction worker zombie has earplugs in, so he cannot hear things that would otherwise draw the attention of normal zombies. Minnesota is normally a team that would barely draw our attention as well, so I thought this was fitting. Hopefully Denard will be healthy so that we can crush MN just like one would easily dispatch this zombie in the game.
Northwestern: The hunter
The hunter is a zombie that can pounce on you and trap you if you are unsuspecting and do a lot of damage to you if you are not prepared. With Northwestern’s crazy offense, this game can be a trap for Michigan as well as NU can put up a lot of points on us if we are not prepared for them.
Iowa: The riot gear uncommon zombie.
This zombie was a riot gear wearing cop that turned into a zombie, making him much harder to kill as he is bulletproof from the front, but he has just as much offense as your run of the mill common zombie. This is Iowa this season: a better than average defense coupled with an extremely weak offense.
Ohio State: The witch
The witch is a zombie that is extremely powerful offensively, capable of taking down your character extremely quickly if you are not able to take her out first. That is Ohio State this year, a powerful offensive attack, but not their customary strong defense from years past. When I was originally outlining this post, before the Nebraska game, I was going to also allude to how the witch can be gone around and ignored while you still reach your objective (the Big Ten title game) but now that we’ve got a loss against Nebraska we have to go through Ohio State as opposed to around it, which is more dangerous.
Ok so that was what I was thinking as I was playing L4D2. Happy Halloween everyone, I hope you enjoyed reading!
Offense and defense rankings based on total numbers and straight averages can be misleading at times. If a team plays opponents with strong rush offense but weak pass offense, the team's pass defense stats might look better than what they really should be. This is something Michigan was being accused of due to the fact that much of our "bad" defensive games came against strong rushing teams (Alabama and Air Force).
One way to mitigate this "effect" would be to not look at the totals and average numbers, but compare the game output against the average output the opponent has produced against all opponents. This produces numbers that show you how good your performance was compared to all other team that your opponent has played. It is more useful comparative method than using just total numbers.
So, exactly how does it work?
Here are the stats for Michigan so far this year:
|Opponents||Rush Net Total||Pass Yds Total||Total Yds||Pts||Avg Rush Total||Avg Pass Total||Avg Total Offense||Avg Scoring Offense|
|Average All Opp||145.1||145.9||291.0||17.3||196.0||194.7||390.7||27.5|
|Opponents||Avg Rush Off Diff||Avg Pass Off Diff||Avg Total Off Diff||Avg Scoring Off Diff|
|Average All Opp||-24%||-24%||-26%||-39%|
The first four columns of stats represent the actual stats from the game played against Michigan. The second set (of four) columns are the average output of that team against all opponents this year. The
last set (of four) columns second table are the differences in percentage of actual game stat versus the total year averages.
As you can see from the table, Alabama produced their average offensive output against Michigan while Purdue and Illinois barely produced about half of their normal offensive output.
By averaging all of the averages, we find that our defense is reducing our opponents' normal offensive output by about 25%, while only allowing only 61% of their normal scoring output.
Sounds pretty good, but how does that compare to rest of NCAA?
I didn't have enough time to calculate the differential averages for every team in NCAA, but I did the analysis for top 10 Pass/Rush/Total defensive teams and all of Big Ten (plus ND). I did not include stats against FCS opponents. Here it is ranked by total offense differential.
Few things that stand out:
- Alabama, LSU, and Florida St defense stand above the rest
- Michigan and Michigan St defenses stand above the rest of B1G
- Michigan is pretty good at both run and pass defense
- Ohio St pass defense is HORRIBLE!
- BYU defense is much better than I thought
- Many of the defenses highly ranked in one (pass or rush) only because they are so horrible at the other (I am looking at you Arizona St, Stanford, Nebraska and Oregon St!)
- Notre Dame is living on borrowed time - their scoring differential is MUCH higher than what rest of the defensive differentials would indicate
I do believe converting straight up numbers to percentages makes it much easier to compare between pass/rush and between different teams. I hope most of you find this useful. If I get enough upvotes, I will do the same analysis for offense as well.
This will be the first time sharing a wallpaper with MGoBlog. I have made a few in the past but only shared with family, who of course all bleed Maize & Blue. Hope you all enjoy.
I wanted to go with a history theme for the Minnesota game. I know as of recently there has not been much of a rivalry between the two schools, Blue winning 19 of the last 20 meetings. Minnesota has had its streaks in the series as well and the history of the jug is intriguing to me. I chose players for the wallpaper based on personal preference of course but also because each was a great at their own time. I added a subtle little "pass & catch" order to the players showing that the honor of winning it has been passed from Team #30 down to Team #133.
In the last 5 years, I've made it to every Big Ten school (and ND) for an away Michigan Football game. As you’ll see, the Nebraska trip was quite unique. I hope Nebraska fans that visit Ann Arbor leave with an equally positive experience when they visit us.
Putting aside the Wolverines for a moment, the Nebraska football community is no doubt the most prideful, classy, hospitable and kind (in my observation anyway) of all B1G teams. While they don't have a decades-long history of matchups with other B1G football programs, I don't think they would change much if they did. They would still be a great example of how a fanbase is supposed to support its football program and welcome visiting fans.
Below are examples of how they do things:
- Checking in to the hotel (Fairfield Inn – not fancy), the hotel manager offered to give us his number in case we got lost while exploring downtown Lincoln. (Come On Man, I Have A Smartphone)
- Friday night, while at dinner, several groups of people stopped at our table, welcoming us to Lincoln and wishing us luck the next day for the game.
- After dinner, at a campus bar, students went out of their way to welcome us to Lincoln and say "Good luck tomorrow" with a smile. (This is when I start thinking Where Am I?)
- On the walk back to the hotel Friday night, a group of ladies stopped us on the sidewalk and said greeting visiting fans is always a highlight for them and it is "like seeing a celebrity". (Now thinking: Is This Just A Well-Executed Prank?)
- Saturday before the game, we walked all around the stadium and nearby tailgates for about 7 hours. This part deserves sub-bullets:
o About 75% of tailgate parties we walked by asked us to stop and chat with them. 50% offered us food or beverage.
o One tailgate we decided to stop at was run by Tommie Frazier. Yes that Tommie Frazier. His name is on the stadium. Not knowing who he was (all he said was "I used to play here"), we talked to him for about 15 minutes, discussing the ongoing stadium renovations, where various campus/athletic buildings were located, where the best tailgates are, etc. The only reason I know that he wasn't just another guy with a tailgate is because as we were saying goodbye, the Nebraska gymnastics coach walked up and said Tommie's name aloud.
o Another tailgate lot we walked through had all the party buses and RVs in it. A converted school bus stood out as a great piece of fandom and as we were walking by, the door flung open and we were invited inside to drink beer and watch the early games. We sat there for about an hour, totally spontaneously, and shared stories about how both teams think they would have demolished the other if they had played against each other in 1997.
o The last tailgate lot we walked through ended up being about a 3 hour stop. Our plans to go to a bar for pregame dinner were abandoned. One guy demanded we have a blue jello shot with him from the batch that he made in honor of Michigan. A few parking spots away we did several shot-skis. We accepted invitations to eat food from several different grills and slowcookers. All the discussions taking place in these three hours were about football and beer. No taunting or yelling or animosity or complaining of any kind. I never heard a negative remark about either team or their corresponding players. I was in a sea of red and I wanted more. (Is This Real Life?)
- During the game, a Nebraska fan sitting opposite the aisle from us bought us a Runza (a baked pastry filled with meat) from the vendor walking the aisles (yes they have those). He didn't speak a word to us the whole game except when he said "Welcome to Lincoln, this [Runza] is for you" while indicating it was a local delicacy of sorts. It was delicious. (I Didn't Know I Wanted That, But He Did)
- After the game, our section was among the last to file out due to the gate location, and the Nebraska fans walking down the steps with us were interested to know if we enjoyed our time in their city despite the ugly game. We said yes, and they wished us safe travels home.
It got to the point where the sincerity and hospitality were equal parts overwhelming and humbling. I highly recommend you visit this place. I'm still wondering if everybody that visits has such a great experience or if I was just lucky. Either way, this is how Football Saturday should be. I'll likely cheer for Nebraska whenever doing so doesn't conflict with cheering interests that are advantageous for Michigan.
Preseason Prediction: Michigan will end the year with a +8 Turnover Margin (TOM) or better (2011 was +7). The prediction for TOM for M for this year is based on the prediction that M will be a very good team again this year and is not based on the actual TOM of last year. (Very good teams will have a TOM of +5 or better.)
No Way: The replay guys were just brutal. Negate a 50 yard catch by Roundtree and then uphold that interception off the Vincent Smith catch/whatever. If that was a catch, then Smith was down when he hit the ground – if the ball hit the ground, then it should have been incomplete. Michigan had 2 takeaways but the 3 interceptions made the turnover stats for the game ugly. For the year, Bellomy is 4-21 with 4 interceptions and a – 0.65 efficiency rating. And, no, I am not charting that.
Denard Robinson Interception %: Denard was having a good game until the elbow nerve flared up for the third time this year and he did not return to the game. This is a recurring problem that is not going away and it is very likely that Denard will miss major portions of the next 4 games. The chart shows a comparison of Denard's Int% for 2011 and 2012 subdivided by out-of-conference (OOC) and Big Ten games.
In 2011 M ranked #11 at 65% run play %.
Synopsis for Turnovers: M added 1 interception gained (Ojemudia) for a total of 7 interceptions and is ranked #52. M had one forced fumble (Washington) recovered by Heitzman for 6 fumble recoveries for the year (ranked #63). The total of 14 interceptions lost is ranked at #121. Team interception rate is 7.4% – ranked #124 with the next worst being Auburn at 5.95%. M did not lose a fumble and the total of just 3 lost fumbles is ranked #13. Michigan now has 12 different defensive players that have either forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, or intercepted a pass.
Synopsis for Expected Point (EP) Analysis: Turnovers resulted in a net of 5.1 expected points benefitting Nebraska. Although the EP analysis does not indicate that TOs were a significant reason M lost this game, my gut sure tells me that the TOs made it just about impossible for M to win this one.
The folks at Football Outsiders – FEI are also doing weekly "Revisionist Box Scores" that strips out TOs, Special Teams, and Field Position. FEI calculates the value generated by each drive and then lost on the drive up until the turnover, as if the drive had concluded at that spot on the field. Thru Week #8, FEI has 16% of games where TOs were significant.
(See the Section on Gory Details below for how the adjustment for Expected Points (EP) is calculated.)
National Rankings: All rankings include games between two FBS teams ONLY and are from TeamRankings except for forced fumbles which is from CFBStats. The four columns with *** show the best correlation to offense and defense (per Advanced NFL stats).
The Gory Details
Expected Point (EP) Analysis: Basically, the probability of scoring depends on the line of scrimmage for the offense. Therefore, the impact of a TO also depends on the yard line where the TO is lost and the yard line where the TO is gained. Each turnover may result in an immediate lost opportunity for the team committing the TO and a potential gain in field position by the opponent. Both of these components can vary dramatically based upon the down when the TO occurred, the yards the TO is returned, and whether the TO was a fumble or an interception.
Here are the details for the game.
The analysis is a bit tricky because: (A) the TO may directly result in lost EP for the offense but (B) only modifies the EP for the team gaining the TO because the team gaining the TO would have gotten another possession even without the TO (due to a punt, KO after a TD, KO after a field goal, etc.). The Net EP Gain must take into account the potential EP gain without the TO. The EP gain without the turnover is based on where the field position would have been for the next possession if the TO had not occurred.
The expected point calculations are based on data from Brian Fremeau at BCFToys (he also posts at Football Outsiders). Fremeau's data reflects all offensive possessions played in 2007-2010 FBS vs. FBS games. I "smoothed" the actual data.
Here is a summary of the smoothed expected points.